The New Jersey Lottery has some advice about using lottery tickets as children's gifts this holiday season: Think twice.

Executive Director Carole Hedinger said the Lottery is committed to responsible play.

"Part of that responsible play commitment is to discourage lottery tickets being gifted to children," she said. "People often put them in stockings, and they end up scratching them off after Christmas with children. Sometimes they put them in a kid's stocking as a Christmas gift."

To be clear, Hedinger said, it's that it's not illegal to give a kid a lottery ticket. A child can even collect the winnings. But she said adults may be sending the wrong message.

"We do know from research that the younger a person is when they start gambling, the more at risk they are for developing a gambling problem later in life," she said.

Hedinger said the Lottery works very closely with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, especially when it comes to deterring underage gambling.

She said there's no harm in gifting tickets to children as long as it is done responsibly, with the message that this is only a game, not an easy path to money.

"This is something that you do for fun and entertainment. You do not do this as a way to make a living or to pay for your college education," she said.

Hedinger said the Lottery does a big promotion before school starts with the same theme, "to also point out that Lottery tickets are for adults, not for kids."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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